The Zoo - Page 3
The North hills offer rules of trails from a trailhead just minutes from downtown Missoula. Photo by Tom Robertson.
IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME
In 2001, it may not have seemed like the most brilliant idea. Brooker was warned by retail veterans that the town of 60,000 was too small to support a specialty running store. He didn’t know jack about marketing. He found a small space off Higgins next door to a porn shop.
Brooker knew, however, how to bring a runner’s discipline to retail. He knew how to be coached. He talked to a whole lot of people and got a whole lot of help. He contacted Kurt Kinghorn of Spokane’s successful store, Runner’s Soul, who remembers Anders and his dad coming over the first time and thinking that this might not be the best idea. But they asked good questions and kept coming back and, Kinghorn says, “They were such nice people,” he’s not surprised it has worked out so well.
When I moved to town, I checked in at the store. I tend to do that when I travel to a new place; it’s a good way to get the low-down on the local scene. I collected a scant pile of race brochures, and had a chat with Anders’ dad, Tim, also a speedy runner, who gave me advice about trails to run and people to get in touch with. It was a good store, but it didn’t provide the locus I sought.
What I couldn’t see was that Anders had been planning for years to put on a marathon. He talked with customers as he sold them shoes, and began to build a slate of people who would become instrumental in planning and executing the Missoula
Marathon. They included Kevin Twidwell, a boy-faced ultrarunning lawyer who grew up in Butte, Montana, went to law school, practiced in Seattle then moved to Missoula. He can’t resist helping anyone who asks, and sometimes even those who don’t.
At the time, there was a desultory organization, the Missoula Road and Track Club, which had let its corporate registration with the state lapse. Anders wanted the marathon to be a non- profit, and needed a structure separate from the store. So they changed the name of the club and set up something called Run Wild Missoula. Twidwell cranked out paperwork the way he grinds away at the miles, and set up bylaws and articles of incorporation and applied for 501c3 status. It took, he says, forever for this to come through. But he’s an ultrarunner, a patient man. They tapped a director for the new club and got to work planning a race. In the beginning, it was more, “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show,” than a real professional operation. Five or six runners sit- ting around in a bar. It worked.